How to Pick the Right Paralegal Program near Glennallen Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Glennallen AK and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their Glennallen homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Glennallen AK lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Glennallen AK is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies in the profession are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Glennallen AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Glennallen AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Glennallen AK law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Glennallen AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those schools that are within the Glennallen AK region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Glennallen AK. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Glennallen AK, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Glennallen AK?
If you live near Glennallen Alaska or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Glennallen /ɡlɛˈnælən/ (Ciisik’e Na’ in Ahtna) is a census-designated place (CDP) in the Valdez–Cordova Census Area in the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, the population of the CDP was 483, down from 554 in 2000.
Glennallen is located at 62°06′33″N 145°32′47″W / 62.10917°N 145.54639°W / 62.10917; -145.54639 (62.109170, -145.54639; Sec. 23, T004N, R002W, Copper River Meridian), in the Chitina Recording District and Game Management Unit 13.
It lies along the Glenn Highway at its junction with the Richardson Highway, 189 road miles (304 km) east of Anchorage. It is just outside the western boundary of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
AAS In Paralegal Studies Glennallen AK
Selecting the right legal assistant certificate school is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about AAS In Paralegal Studies. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Glennallen residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Glennallen AK.
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